WASHINGTON, July 28, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- As part of the American Institute in Ukraine's (AIU's) efforts to focus greater public attention on noteworthy information concerning Ukraine, Moldova, and other countries included in the European Union's "Eastern Partnership," provided below are statements on a significant item by Thomas Fasbender that appeared online in the German publication HEISE "TELEPOLIS" (a political online magazine by the independent German media association IVW) and in edited form in the print edition of the conservative Berlin newspaper Junge Freiheit. The full English and German texts are available on the AIU Website: http://www.aminuk.org/index.php?idmenu=12&idsubmenu=499&language=en#.V5jVYGOWuCo
In his article "'Moldovan Maidan' with Ties to Germany – 'Failed State' on the Edge of Europe," reporter Thomas Fasbender asks if a "failed state" threatens to come into being on the periphery of Europe. Fasbender reports Moldova's 3.1 million citizens are the poorest in Europe and that the United Nations ranks it 114 out of 187 countries on its Human Development Index, noting some politicians treat Moldova as a possible EU member, but that the country looks otherwise.
Fasbender points out that Moldova is a symbol for the failure of EU policy vis-à-vis the non-Russian European Soviet republics called the Eastern Partnership and writes the reason lies less in the 24-year-old frozen conflict in Pridnestrovie than in the failure of the Moldovan elite to bring a half-way functional state into being.
The Junge Freheit and "TELEPOLIS" reporter notes that most observers blamed the state of affairs on the Communists who had ruled the country since 2009, but also states there have been parties in power which have promoted pro-Western and pro-European policies.
Fasbender writes, "The high point of that period was a banking scandal of comparatively astronomical proportions. At the end of 2014 rumors emerged whereby the owners of three commercial banks had illegally sent a total of one billion US dollars abroad." According to multiple western media reports including the New York Times and BBC, this rumor resulted in street protests in Kishniev, a February 2015 run on the bank [Bankensturm], and the collapse of Moldova's currency by 40%.
As AIU deputy director James Jatras noted previously in a May 2015 press statement, "The Moldovan [bank] crisis involves the abuse of power by politicians of several parties—including those running the country's shaky pro-EU minority government—for the purpose of siphoning funds from a number of Moldovan banks, notably from Banca de Economii Moldova (BEM)."
Following this scandal Vlad Filat, Moldova's prime minister from 2009-2013, has been imprisoned and is awaiting trial since October 2015 and Pavel Filip of the pro-European Democratic Party of Moldova has been head of the government since 2016.
"In the days of the banking crisis, the civil society movement Dignity and Truth was founded in February 2015 in the capital of Kishinev," writes Fasbender in his article. Dignity and Truth, led by the former state prosecutor Andrei Nastase, organized a September 2015 demonstration against corruption and oligarch domination in Kishinev that attracted more than 100,000 people (two percent of the entire population). "In the West, [Dignity and Truth] became known as a 'Moldovan Maidan' after the Kiev protest movement of 2013-2014," according to Fasbender. The civil society movement later emerged as Moldova's Platform Dignity and Truth political party.
AIU warned in February 2015 that Moldova was headed for civil unrest if, like Ukraine, either a Western or Eastern uni-vectoral path was forced on Moldovans.
In his article, Fasbender further notes that the first reports began to emerge, according to which the presumed grass-roots movement was really a political tool of two unrelated oligarchs with the same last name – Ţopa – in a struggle with their archenemy Vladimir Plahotniuc. Fasbender writes "Both Ţopas – Viktor and Viorel – have lived for years in Frankfurt am Main. In their Moldovan homeland both were sentenced to 10 and 8 years respectively on charges of fraud. They were also accused of trafficking in guns and money laundering. In Germany, they were considered victims of political persecution. It is doubtful that their German hosts are unreservedly happy with them."
Fasbender's article also questions the Ţopas' role in sale of the German government's Airbus 'Theodor Heuss' to Iran through the Ukraine in 2011 and their denial that they had anything to do with the establishment and funding of Dignity and Truth, which has been an active player in the banking scandal.
"These denials are not widely accepted," comments AIU's Jatras, pointing to photos on Moldovan websites allegedly showing Viktor Ţopa with the group's leader, Andrei Nastase, in April 2016 in front of a Frankfurt bar, as well as of an S-class Mercedes with Frankfurt plates, which allegedly belongs to Nastase.
"Nastase is said to have been best man at Ţopa's wedding," writes Fasbender. "For the financing of the movement and the party, 200,000 euros were transferred from off-shore banks into the personal accounts of Nastase's mother and mother-in-law. Money from off-shore sources also finance Viktor Ţopa's Jurnal TV, which heavily promoted Dignity and Truth."
About the American Institute in Ukraine's (AIU's) "Eastern Partnership Initiative"
The "Eastern Partnership Initiative" (EPI) is an informational and educational program of the American Institute in Ukraine (AIU). The EPI program seeks to promote open discussion and analysis of the EU's Eastern Partnership (EaP) with former Soviet republics, including Moldova, and the social, economic, political, and security consequences for those countries, for Europe, and for the United States. As with AIU overall, EPI reflects the diversity of opinion that exists among Americans regarding issues relevant to the EaP countries and to their relationships with the United State and with their European neighbors. Such diversity allows for a better informed debate among the people of the EaP countries about the future of their countries, which benefits both them and the United States, as well as Europe. AIU is a privately funded U.S. nonprofit organization and neither receives, solicits, nor accepts funds from any government.
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SOURCE American Institute in Ukraine